This AidCamp was held in conjunction with our partner organisation SERVE in Sri Lanka. SERVE works primarily in the areas of social work and education for the benefit of underprivileged and deprived urban and suburban children.
The purpose of this project was to build a resource centre to provide a child friendly environment for the children of the tsunami affected community of Kalutara, giving them facilities for additional studies, to do their homework, use the library, and play indoor games such as chess and carrom.
In addition to working on the building the volunteers were also taken to see SERVE's work for the rural poor in the area, as well as on several local and regional sightseeing trips.The following report was written by Roni, one of the volunteers:
"I was excited to arrive in Colombo after a few months of planning and fundraising, it had finally arrived. After spending a couple of days in Mt Lavinia recovering from the flights we were all chomping at the bit to go down to the project in Kalutara.
My first impressions were 'oh my god' how will we ever complete the project in time, as the current structure was a 20 year old unfinished project (or ruin to the untrained eye) but our AidCamp leader was very confident that we'd finish it no problems. We were greeted very warmly into our accommodation and were pleased to be so close to the sea.
In our first week of work we were mainly debris clearing and were introduced to the art of sieving sand, which I'm sure will remain in our minds for ever! But everyone on the project was very positive and ready with a smile, song or game to keep us going through the heat of the day.
Our weekend breaks away were always welcome to help us get our western food hit and energy back. The highlights for me were the safari in the Uda Walawe Wildlife Sanctuary, where we saw numerous elephants, crocodile and buffalo and, in particular, the elephant transit centre where the orphans came running for their morning milk feed. But we were always ready on the Sunday to get going again and would eagerly look over the site on the way home to see how far the builders had got along and hope that no more sand had been delivered!
The resource centre was being built in the grounds of the Buddhist temple and we received much support from the people there, who were always pleased to join in with our carrying chains and provide us with coconuts and occasional snacks to keep us going. A number of homes for tsunami families had also been built on the site and hopefully they will be able to make use of the centre when they move in.
The building was finished at the eleventh hour, but we had done it, we had completed the work that we came to do and felt a huge sense of satisfaction from it. We were given a tremendous opening ceremony by the temple, we were given a blessing and were told that they were grateful for every drop of sweat -- and there was a lot of that!
It was the most amazing trip that I have ever done and it was very fulfilling. I don't think I'd settle for a sitting on the beach holiday ever again. Thank you, it was brilliant!"
"My third AidCamp. The most hard-working and the most rewarding yet. I was near to tears at the opening ceremony."
"Congratulations on another brilliant project -- I'll be back! (again!)"
"A superb experience and so rewarding. We were warmly welcomed by the local community and there was a real sense of achievement at the end. I was very sad to leave."
"The perfect combination of work and play."
"It was a fantastic opportunity to do a substantial amount of work that will really make a difference to people's lives. Very satisfying, and puts AidCamps International in a league of its own."
"A brilliant insight into local culture and the opportunity to make people smile."
"Feel I got a lot more out of it that I put in. Had a great time."
"Fantastic! An amazing experience!"
"One of the most fulfilling trips I have ever done. I would recommend it to anyone."
"I had a fantastic time, learnt so much about Sri Lanka and its people. I would definitely come again."
"It was an absolutey amazing experience. In such a short space of time we accomplished something that will last for generations."
"I had a fantastic experience in Sri Lanka and really feel as if we've achieved something in these three weeks. AidCamps is very well priced, very well organised, and a lot of fun too."
"Before choosing AidCamps I looked at a lot of different projects and I was glad I chose this one because of the mixed age range, affordability, and friendly approach."
"We've been welcomed by the community and our work has really been appreciated. I've got so much out of it."
"Amazing experience. I have enjoyed it more than words can say."